This year, I took a lunch hour to pick some berries from a patch down the road and got a pretty good haul. Since Savvy Jr. has been eating a lot of toast, I decided to make jam with it the berries. I made the following recipe, which makes eight 8-ounce jars of jam.
Since I got the berries for free and re-used jars, the only things I bought for the jam were the pectin ($3.99) and the sugar ($1.50). That means each jar of jam cost only $.69 to make.
My recipe uses 5 cups of sugar. Most jam recipes call for more than that—7 cups of sugar is common, sometimes you even see 10 cups.
That might be necessary if you have sour berries (which is often the case with frozen berries or store-bought berries), but that’s way too much sugar for good berries, if you ask me. My idea of jam is summer in a jar. You want it to taste like mashed, sweet fruit, not gelled sugar.
I find this recipe works fine with regular pectin, but to make sure it gels nicely, use low-sugar pectin if you have a choice. It acts and tastes like regular pectin—you won’t notice the difference.
(Makes 8 8-ounce jars)
5 cups blackberries
4-5 cups sugar
1 (1 3/4 ounce) package low-sugar pectin
1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Sanitize your jars, either with a dishwasher’s sanitize mode or by boiling them for 10 minutes. Wash the lids and rings with soap. Put the jars upside down on a clean towel until you’re ready to use them.
Wash the berries and remove any twigs or debris.
Put the berries in a large stainless steel pot. Mash with a potato masher.
Add the pectin a little at a time, stirring as you go. Heat the berries on high heat and bring to a full boil.
Stir in the sugar and lemon juice. Taste the jam. Add more sugar if needed. (The finished jam will taste pretty much like the jam in the pot, so keep that in mind when tasting.)
Bring the mixture back to a full boil. Let boil for one minute.
Remove from the heat. Ladle the hot jam into the jars, leaving about 1/4-inch space at the top. Put on the lid and rings on the jars.
Put the jars in a pot and cover completely with water. Bring to a boil and let boil for 10 minutes.
Remove the jam from the water and let sit upright on the towel at room temperature for 12 hours.
Ta-da! Jam! You can eat it within a day or two after making it. Enjoy!